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MUSC Women’s Health, Listening to Women program granted $7 million from Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute

The Medical University of South Carolina’s Women’s Reproductive Behavioral Health Division, led by Principal Investigator Constance Guille, M.D. has been approved for a $7 million research funding award by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) to study a new text/phone-based screening and referral program, called Listening to Women and Pregnant and Pregnant and Postpartum People (LTWP).

LTWP is a patient-and-provider-informed, technology-enhanced intervention that aims to improve healthcare system’s screening, referral to treatment, communication and care coordination among patients, providers, and health systems throughout pregnancy and the postpartum year.

“The vast majority of women experiencing mental health or substance use problems or intimate partner violence suffer in silence, especially during pregnancy and postpartum,” Guille said. “Texting and phone-based interventions have the potential to breakdown the many barriers that prevent women from reaching out and getting the help they need and deserve.”

Suicide and drug overdose are leading causes of pregnancy associated deaths during the year after having a baby. These deaths are due to a lack of identification and treatment of Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders (PMADs), Perinatal Substance Use Disorders (PSUDs) and Intimate Partner Violence (IPV), as well as poor patient-to-provider / provider-to-provider communication and care coordination throughout pregnancy and the postpartum year. Guille and her team developed LTWP based on qualitative research with pregnant and postpartum women and obstetric providers with the goal of reducing maternal deaths associated with undetected and untreated PMADs, PSUDs and IPV and to improve women’s health and well-being during pregnancy and the postpartum year.

MUSC Women’s Health provides the safest, expert care in all sub-specialties that support women’s unique needs in South Carolina. Ranked #16 in the nation by U.S. News & World Report’s 2022 – 23 survey, MUSC’s OB-GYN clinicians provide expertise in advanced fetal care, gynecology, gynecologic cancer, maternal fetal medicine, obstetrics, reproductive behavioral health and urogynecology.

“This project was selected for PCORI funding not only for its scientific merit and commitment to engaging patients and other healthcare stakeholders in a study conducted in real-world settings, but also for its potential to answer an important question about how improved screening, technology and communication impacts the critical care women need at this precarious time in their lives and fills a crucial evidence gap,” said PCORI Executive Director Nakela L. Cook, MD, MPH.

The study was selected through a highly competitive review process in which patients, caregivers, and other stakeholders joined scientists to evaluate the proposals. It was selected for funding through a PCORI program designed to support research that produces results that are broadly applicable to a diverse range of patients and care situations and can be more quickly taken up in routine clinical practice.

Many clinical studies test whether an approach to care works under carefully controlled conditions in specialized research centers, but health care is rarely delivered in such optimized situations and settings. Pragmatic clinical studies test a treatment’s effectiveness in “real-world” practice situations, such as typical hospitals and outpatient clinics, and also can include a wider range of study participants, making their findings more generally applicable. Guille’s LTWP science-based approach seeks to identify how integrating technology and the skill sets of clinical social workers into critical aspects and phases of screening and diagnosis of pregnant and postpartum women can help save lives of mothers and babies.

The award has been approved pending completion of a business and programmatic review by PCORI staff and issuance of a formal award contract. PCORI is an independent, nonprofit organization authorized by Congress in 2010. Its mission is to fund research that will provide patients, their caregivers, and clinicians with the evidence-based information needed to make better-informed healthcare decisions.

Listen to a podcast related to this work here.

About MUSC

Founded in 1824 in Charleston, MUSC is the state’s only comprehensive academic health system, with a unique mission to preserve and optimize human life in South Carolina through education, research and patient care. Each year, MUSC educates more than 3,000 students in six colleges – Dental Medicine, Graduate Studies, Health Professions, Medicine, Nursing and Pharmacy – and trains more than 850 residents and fellows in its health system. MUSC brought in more than $327.6 million in research funds in fiscal year 2021, leading the state overall in research funding. MUSC also leads the state in federal and National Institutes of Health funding, with more than $220 million. For information on academic programs, visit musc.edu.

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Tamia Sumpter

Tamia is a driven senior undergraduate Bioengineering student currently enrolled at Clemson University. With a strong foundation in her field, she has honed her skills through hands-on experience in research and development at Eli Lilly & Company. During her time in the ADME department, Tamia contributed significantly by working on siRNAs and their applications in finding In Vitro-In Vivo Correlation (IVIVC). Looking ahead, Tamia has set her sights on a promising career in law. She aspires to specialize in Intellectual Property Law, with a particular focus on serving as in-house counsel for leading medical device or pharmaceutical companies. Her enthusiasm for this role is palpable as she prepares to embark on her legal journey! She is also a proud member of the Omicron Phi chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., PEER Mentor for Clemson PEER/WiSE, and currently serves as the President of Clemson Bioengineering Organization (CBO). With her unique blend of scientific knowledge and legal interests, Tamia is poised to make a meaningful impact in the healthcare and life sciences industries.